Preacher To Fellow Preachers

How does it happen? A counseling session. A Bible study. Getting too friendly with another couple. A flirtatious touch, glance or innuendo. No, not that alone. Add to the mix a weak marriage, the excitement of the forbidden, a sense of entitlement. Oh, yes, and subtract a vibrant, personal devotion to God.

Now shake vigorously -- BOOM!!! That’s the sound of shattered marriages, broken psyches, fractured churches.

It is so easy as a preacher to study for others, reprove/rebuke/exhort others, advise others, pray for others ... and forget about ourselves. We compartmentalize; we wall off certain areas of our minds and fail to connect the principles from one situation/relationship to another.

As Paul said to the Jews: “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? … You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?’” (Rom. 2:21-22) God holds preachers to the same standards as everyone else; we have no license to sin because we know God’s word and we teach others.

Moral knowledge is not sufficient; God judges us on moral performance.

Look, this is not a “How could you be so stupid?” article. I have been preaching for 30 years (and have been a human being even longer), so I do have some notion of my own vulnerabilities. I’ve lived long enough to know NOT to say, “I would never do [fill in the blank].”

But God has allowed preachers the greatest vocation in this world -- to make an eternal difference in the lives of people, to side-by-side with Jesus “preach the gospel to the poor ... to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). As the old saying goes, God only had one Son, and He was a preacher.

Yes, some brethren say ugly things; some praise us beyond all sensibility. At times we are underappreciated, underpaid and overhyped. As a vocation preaching has its perks and it has its pains. But at the end of the day, men and women entrust us with their souls. They give us more access to their minds on a spiritual level than they do in perhaps any other application (reading, prayer, etc.).

If we lose sight of that privilege, then it is not so hard to see a sister as a lover, her husband as a dupe, our mate as a has-been and the congregation as the supporting cast in our personal drama. God’s people deserve better than this, and we owe God much more than this.